Wow, I had been so busy for the past few weeks that I forgot about this thread completely. It is wonderful to see that more people have shared their input.
I actually did end up making tamales, but I got so busy afterwards that I neglected to write up the experience and share photos. And now I am visiting my parents over the holidays and the photos are at home! Alas, I will have to post them when I get back.
I only got around to trying tamales de puerco, which using my recipe consisted of a filling of carnitas, hominy, and a single spanish olive. I used carnitas a la Jaymes
, which are unbelievably good, and maiz para posole that i simmered until soft (it was preshelled). For the masa I used maseca from the white bag, as I was unable to find any Maseca specified as being for tamales in my area. The first time I mixed the lard into the masa until it looked like coarse meal (with a touch of salt), added hot chicken stock until it pulled from the sides of the bowl, and then used it like that, after it had cooled.
The second time I followed the general directions from Abra's
recipe (near bottom of the first page) but only used lard, maseca, salt, and chicken stock for my ingredients.
Both times the tamales were really good, and the salsa colorado really added something, but the masa seemed lacking. I mean it was tasty, but it just didn't have any of the magic that I imagine when I hear people talking about tamales so impassionately.
In both batches the masa seemed a littly dry. They were fairly small tamales and only seemed to take 45 minutes or so to set. The first batch I probably let steam after they were set for an extra 15-20 minutes, but the second I watched carefully and took out of the steamer as soon as it seemed they were set. My experience with a lot of similarly steamed things is that usually oversteaming is not a real risk, is this the case too with tamales?
The second batch seemed a little lighter than the first, which I attributed to the baking powder and the whipping of the lard, but the difference was not that striking. I was curious about the whipping step in Abra's recipe, as it seemed somewhat akin to creaming to me. My lard was at room temperature though, while I'm not exactly sure about the theory behind the technique, I think that it probably would have been better to have it chilled and slightly softened.
Many thanks for the detailed instructions, I hope to try them out soon. I am at my parents home in Portland Oregon for a few weeks over christmas, and availability for mexican ingredients is much better here than in Montreal. One snag though is that I don't have a food processor here, would grinding the corn be feasible in a blender? If not I may be able to borrow a processor.
you should allow at least 30 to 45 minutes with the heat off to let the tamales 'set' prior to serving.
I was intrigued by this comment. Do the tamales improve after a resting period, and if so, what underlies this improvement? And how do you reheat them?
Indeed, success is the ultimate measure. I will be sure to attempt your mixing method, music and good humor included. I wonder if you might elaborate though on how you know when the masa is ready, or what exactly the whipping is doing (just lightening the masa?)?
Your method for re-heating sounds wonderful, but what if the tamales are frozen?
Now I just have to find some of the right corn and figure out what kind of tamales I'd like to make.
More info is always welcome though! I'd love to hear anyone talk about the use of spices in the masa or proportions of fat and liquid used.